Selected by Dan Clendenin
By Mary Karr
Before my first communion at 40, I clung
to doubt as Satan spider-like stalked
the orb of dark surrounding Eden
for a wormhole into paradise.
God has first formed me in the womb
small as a bite of burger.
Once my lungs were done
He sailed a soul like a lit arrow
To inflame me. Maybe that piercing
Made my howl at birth,
Or the masked creatures
Whose scalpel cut a lightning bolt to free me —
I was hoisted by the heels and swatted, fed
And hauled through rooms. Time-lapse photos show
My fingers grew past crayon outlines,
my feet came to fill spike heels.
Eventually, I lurched out to kiss the wrong mouths,
get stewed, and sulk around. Christ always stood
to one side with a glass of water.
I swatted the sap away.
When my thirst got great enough
to ask, a stream welled up inside;
some jade wave buoyed me forward;
and I found myself upright
In the instant, with a garden
inside my own ribs aflourish. There, the arbor leafs.
The vines push out plump grapes.
You are loved, someone said. Take that
and eat it.
Dan Clendenin: firstname.lastname@example.org
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